It’s Dark at 3am.

Sometimes at night I wake and am not exactly sure how long I’ve been so, my eyes open and staring at patterns the too bright light across the street makes on our bedroom ceiling. It’s so quiet, even with the windows still open to let the cool Fall night air in. Everything is still.

I have no reason to be awake at this hour. No worries, no dreams to think about. And assuming I’ve had enough sleep for the night, I feel my way into the closet for my slippers and a sweatshirt and head downstairs, my dog following me as she always does. The stairs aren’t easy for her anymore.

The early morning sky is still dark, and I stand just outside the patio door while the dog takes care of her business, not quite wanting to venture too far away from me. She worries that I’ll leave her out there alone, and I know that if I could see her eyes, they’d register that concern. The stars are bright and I can see the Big Dipper hanging heavily, nearly touching the shadowy horizon in the East, each star twinkling weakly. I take my usual count and notice the Small Dipper as well, more brightly than I have in some time. And there’s the star that’s red and most likely long dead now, its light still traveling to us from so far away.

The dog and I quietly go back inside, she wagging her tail for the expected Milkbone she’s gotten since she was a puppy for not peeing in the house, and I to risk the beeps of the microwave to heat up a cup of stale coffee.

It’s Monday, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter so much anymore, but this Monday the RTR begins his week off school for the holiday, and we take on our third week of construction. Maybe that’s why I’m sitting here instead of falling back to sleep. It’s quiet, and I can sit in the glow of my screen and not see the shambles my house is in. There are no hammers or saws, nor questions to answer about decisions that will cost more money.

So here I sit. Thinking about nothing in particular and waiting for the sounds of the day to begin so I can make a real pot of coffee without waking the others up.

In the meantime, I’ll listen to the hissing of the refrigerator, and the snorts my cat is making, chewing on her fleas.

My Non-Fickle Car Life in Hondas

This morning, someone on CNBC made a comment about American car customers being fickle.  I didn’t recognize him, and that doesn’t really matter.  Sometimes, I think the talking heads that flash on and off the television don’t know what comes out of their mouths most of the time, running a bit like someone who is in the throes of intestinal distress and searching for a bathroom.

I immediately disagreed, knowing I would fail to qualify for fickleness.  I’ve had a love affair with Hondas since 1975 when I purchased a brand spanking new Civic hatchback with a “Hondamatic” transmission.  I was 19 years old.  I loved that car and the responsibility of making my $84.75 monthly payment.  I think it was the first time I actually began to feel like an adult with something that belonged specifically to me.

There was a period where I was Honda-less, though.  I had a Jeep CJ-5 before Chrysler or whomever bought the company turned them into something that only looked like a Jeep.  It was fun for a while.  I learned how to drive a stick, let some air out of the over-sized tires and blast up the side of a giant sand dune — my hair bandana flapping in the hot breeze, my bikini clad skin darkening by the minute.

I never quite fit the role of desert rat I was introduced to by my first husband, but it was what lured me away from Hondas for a few years.  I could talk about things like leaf springs, and 4-wheel drive traction.  I slept in a tiny tent in desolate areas, and drove around without doors attached to the side of my Jeep on warm days.  I visited shops that smelled of grease and sparkled with chrome rims and exhaust pipes.  I also spent time stuck in the middle of nowhere with flat tires, cracked radiators, and broken u-joints.  That’s what happens when a vehicle purchased for everyday use is thrashed about on days off and vacations.  The two don’t exactly mix.

It was interesting while it lasted, but I sadly divorced the Jeep.  The radiator fan finally spinning off its track, I left it in a parking lot where a customer asked if he could buy it for his son.  I said yes, and watched as one of the more interesting parts of my life was towed away, its new teen-aged owner grinning ear to ear, leaving me with mixed memories.

And then I bought another Honda.

At that point, my two older boys were about five and six, and because the four-door gently used Civic made a strange noise when it was in high gear and reaching a particular speed, we named it the ST, for “Silver Tornado.”  It served quite a few important years getting me to and from work,  to SDSU to finish my abandoned degree, and my boys to and from school, and visits with their dad.  I have warm memories of our very own type of “car talk” revolving around the world they viewed from their backseat positions:  trees, hills, clouds…and water towers.  When I think of the topics now, they’re all that can be seen when you’re a small human seatbelted deep into a car.  Such very cute little boys.

I miss them now that they’re grown.

After I finished my credentialing program and the MoH and I married, we were able to leave behind our string of cheap apartments and purchase a condominium, creating a new home for our composite family.  Having a good monthly salary instead of the once a week check I squeezed while in school soon allowed me to donate the old ST to the local high school auto shop, and purchase a shiny new teal Honda Accord with a luxurious creamy interior and automatic windows.  Automatic transmission.  A moon roof.

I thought I’d arrived.

Although my two older boys had many years in that Honda, too, it quickly became the RT’s car.  His place to drip milk from his car seat, and then drop French fries from Happy Meals in cracks where I’d find them petrified weeks later.  His car to sit in more quietly since his brothers were so much older and often not in the car with him.  His space to have books and cars, rocks, and odd seeds he’d collect at school, calling them army men.  The creamy upholstery slowly began to age, the relentless sun in Paradise scorching it to the point where it would soon tear.

So with a mere 11,500 miles on its not quite 10 year old engine, I sold it to one of my son’s friends and bought another Honda:  an Acura 3.2 TL which still sits in my driveway today.

The plan was to give it to the RT when he was old enough to drive, and although that time is rapidly approaching, I’m not quite ready to give up my car.  Yes, there are dings in the sides of it from careless people in parking lots and students slinging backpacks over their shoulders in a hurry to get home.  The carpet is beginning to wear in spots as well.  I tire of the dust showing more quickly than it would on a lighter color, but I like it.  I like the idea that its reliability and comfort holds the remaining couple of years of driving my youngest here and there — he with his iPod earbuds in, me forgetting that when I want him to notice something out the window, forcing him to politely pull them out of his ears to listen to his mother.

No, I think I’ll hold on to this the last of my Hondas.  It has a few more memories left in it.

And then I’ll talk the MoH into one.

April 10, 2012 — I am now the owner of a light blue MINI Cooper with a white top and the Acura I enjoyed for so many years now resides with the MoH’s parents who I hope are enjoying its comfortable ride.  I have to say driving the MINI does remind me a bit of tooling around in my first little Honda Civic — the small one with the hatchback.  I suppose this makes me fickle, but I’d say that considering 34 of the 38 years I’ve been driving I’ve owned a Honda, I can’t be too fickle.

Carly Simon and Memories about Choices

Yesterday was a marathon of driving from one end of the county to the opposite and in weather more conducive to July than November.  To be more accurate, it’s cooler in July here than it has been the last many days.  I’ve given up wishing and hoping for weather that smells and feels like Fall, let alone the winter that is barely four weeks away.

But when I’ve got a task to do that should have been completed weeks ago, I set my route and try not to think about it.  I just go, like I’m on auto pilot.  First one store, then the next.  Speak with one salesperson, then another — all the while taking mental notes and feeling my brain ready to explode with so many others’ opinions.

I’d say that it’s because I’m thorough, but it’s closer to being an approval problem.

Carly Simon helped.  Helped with the searching — not the approval problem.  I rarely listen to music while I’m in the car preferring quiet more, but felt I needed something to get me in and out of the car with each stop I made.  So Carly it was — and only because I sadly do not carry CDs in my car, let alone an iPod.

My afternoon of driving was saturated with memories of the who and what I used to be when “Anticipation” and “You’re So Vain” could be heard on the radio when people actually listened to music on radios.  But my favorite was  “That’s the Way I Always Heard it Should Be,” the haunting melody something I loved even though at that point in my life, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to the words — a giving up of one’s self to something others did just because that’s what was done.

I was too naive to see things that way.  I was too busy looking for fairy tales of my own and thinking they were something that existed instead of something created.  It takes a few mistakes to arrive at that conclusion.

“But you say it’s time we moved in together/Raised a family of our own you and me/Well that’s the way I’ve always heard it should be/You want to marry me/We’ll marry…’

I had no remorse about the eventuality of marriage because all of the other strings attached to the decision  were far more interesting, like having an engagement ring, choosing fabric for a dress I would make myself, selecting perfect invitations, a just right location.  You’re thinking there’s a minor problem with that line of thinking, yes?  The matter of “choosing to spend my life with someone who would never have understood me” type of a problem.

“The couples cling and claw/And drown in love’s debris./You say we’ll soar like two birds through the clouds,/ But soon you’ll cage me on your shelf — I’ll never learn to be just me first,/By myself…”

No, we didn’t get married.  The invitations were never ordered and the ring was given back.

Funny what a song can make you remember, isn’t it?

But I did end up finding what I was looking for on my marathon search yesterday.  It’s a vanity of sorts for part of our home renovation work.  I know you may not quite “see” it the way I do, and that it’s different than what you might put in your home.  I’m used to that.

It’s because somehow along the way, I’ve learned to be just me first, by myself.

Or — that I’ve already polled a zillion people on the choice since gawd forbid someone besides myself will have to look at it while they’re sitting on the toilet and think, “What in hell was that woman thinking?”

But I’m used to people not seeing what I see in life and understand.

You can still throw in your two cents worth if you want.

Yes, it's for the bathroom.

Still not convinced?

After all, it’s just a bathroom vanity, right?

But when I look at it from now on, I will most likely hear Carly Simon’s melody reminding me that I have made some amazingly good choices in life.

Oh Look. Writing.

Somehow, all the time I used to look forward to — all the time I spent thinking about what I might write here is gone.  The unfortunate aspect of this is that the writing voice I hear during the day has faded, its insistent prodding, its litany of opening lines, and reminders of possible topics have been pushed aside by life.  And what a small life it is.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

It should be, but I don’t have the time right now to make it that way.  Too much dust and food, and excuses.  It isn’t that I don’t want to write here.  Honestly.  It’s more about the type of writer I am.

I have to use a food analogy.  Sorry.

If you turn the burner on low and let the water simmer, then turn up the heat as the water approaches the boil, then that would be me.  There’s no turning me on high and cutting to the chase.  I could do that if I wanted, but what’s the point?

Writing is a catharsis for me and if I can’t spend the time, then the words stay in my mind.  And I’m egotistical enough to know that once I’ve formed the perfect line of words to convey the just right thought, they’ll be forgotten unless I write them down.  It’s sad.

I do get credit for:

1) working on a cookbook for a friend which entailed making most of the recipes and snapping photos, right?

2) spending more time than I wanted –surprisingly — looking at products for our home renovation.

3)  getting ready to visit several blogging friends for a week!

4)  having to reposition myself in my home while contractors tear it to shreds and dust settles on every possible surface.

Excuses.

Sad, because so much has happened that I have thoughts about — some lovely, and others, not so much.  And all of which would have been written at one point in time.  But no.  And it’s horrible.

The other problem is, even if I write here, everyone has either left the building, or has stopped writing, their bloggy wonderfulness seemingly forever ended, their words and photos, just sitting, no longer collecting comments.  *sigh*

What to do?

Sign up for that writing class at UCSD extension so I’ll actually write?  Continue to wallow through this strange new life of mine?

What?

Dear President Obama

Dear President Obama:

I can’t tell you how much I’ve anticipated your Presidency.  Thank you so much for taking the time to throw your hat in the ring to run for the highest office in this land.

Now that I’ve made the perfunctory niceties, let me get down to business.  I have much to say…

1.  I hear everything you say.  Now I want you to do what you said you’d do.  I know that it will take some time, and I’m more than willing to wait since I’ve waited for eight seemingly endless years for someone to save us.  I have faith that you’ll begin your work as soon as possible.

2.  So there are quite a few Democrats in Congress who are probably rubbing their hands together just waiting to let the rumpus begin.  As seen by us all for the last eight years, a rumpus is not a fun thing to watch, let alone be on the receiving end of.  I have an inkling of an idea that you’ll give everyone a show with respect to NOT taking advantage of the majority in congress.  In fact, I believe you’ll hold your ground and work toward what you believe matters to the country, and not generally to a party line.  Right?

3.  Sure those Dems will be pissed off.  Too bad.  Nobody wants to have the sweet bird of paradise crap all over their birthday cake.  And pissing them off will most likely put the brakes on quite a few things you’ve got on your agenda.  But hold your own.  They’ll get over it.  It’s not about them, after all, is it?  It’s about us — the people who voted for you.  I know you listened to us, didn’t you?

4.  On the taxes issue.  I hear all kinds of crap about taking money away from the rich and spreading the wealth.  Poor souls don’t understand they aren’t the ones with the wealth you’re talking about.  But when I think about it, it’s kind of cool that people who earn a very good wage think they’re “wealthy.”  Only in America, right?  Those are the people you’re talking about strengthening, right?  They already pay quite a bit of their income in taxes, and I know it seems like they’re rich to those who make less, but at some point, just because you make more than those who make less doesn’t mean you need to pay even more.  Percentages are always good as far as I’m concerned.  So I’ll keep my eye on this one.  I am worried about how you’ll pay for the debt we’ve incurred in Iraq.  Somehow, that not so minor issue has been effectively swept under the carpet by many people who don’t love you as much as your voters do.

5.  It has been suggested to me that being the white woman have been since birth, I voted for you because I feel guilty that I’m white and you’re black.  I’m not sure what to say about this other than I voted for the person I thought was the smartest and had the most clear vision of what was possible for our country.  I noticed you were black and that your father was from Africa, and that your middle name was something that sends some people into some kind of a panic, but I decided you were smart and that’s more than I can say for the person who has served for the past eight years.

6.  You represent so much of what it means to be an American to me, giving hope to those who have come from similar backgrounds to know that they, too, with persistent effort, rise beyond their challenges in life.  It’s important to provide that hope, as much as it’s important to exude the hard work and effort it takes to achieve one’s dreams and goals.  Thank you for continuing to stress the importance of diligence.

7.  Could you please get on the health care issue?  I truly think this is the most important aspect of your work.  Having a system that is about whether an employer pays for insurance or whether one can “afford” it herself isn’t efficient.  Do what you can, please, to help people understand that waiting in line isn’t all there is to a different more effective health system for us all.

8.  I’m kind of sleepy so will make this short.  Well, short for me.  But I’d say that second priority is energy.  Something radical has to happen to steer us in the right direction regarding energy.  I love having choices, but I know the time is gone for me to continue to blithely say that I can afford whatever I have to pay for energy.  It’s not about that.  It’s more about what matters to the planet.  I’m tired of paying for foreign oil.  I’m tired of funding not being available to sustain the progress important to the development of alternative solutions.  Yes, there are people who will find problems with any alternative, but what are our options?  We need wind energy and solar energy, and nuclear energy, and…well you know.  Can you please keep all the oil mongers in line?  They seem to be quite the tough customer and only interested in themselves.  Shouldn’t it be illegal for an oil company to record $14 billion in profits for one quarter when consumers are paying astronomical prices?  They’ve made us all clowns while they’re on their way to the bank.  THOSE are the wealthy you’ve been talking about, right?

9.  Okay, it’s time for bed.  Thanks for listening.  I’ll be back routinely just to let you know what’s on my mind.  I’m just one of hundreds of millions, but I’m willing to talk in a civil manner which is quite challenging for others like my brother who insists upon calling you “Barry.”  You’ll have to forgive him.  He’s a bit cranky, but down deep he sort of gets it some of the time.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for running for President.  You have restored my weary heart and have given me so much to look forward to.

Sincere Congratulations,

Kelly who happens to live in Paradise